In a Quandary over James
If I do kill him off, then it would mean that Hartley would take Michael under his wing and his roof. There is certainly a role for Michael to play in this story and rest of the trilogy too.
If I don't kill James off, then there is no way that he would abandon his brother (James is 17, Michael is 10). They're street kids who have survived without adults for a long time. Could James and Michael still have a purpose in the trilogy if they weren't so close at hand?
Knowing who attacks James (and kidnaps Michael), I can see a purpose to his death. It would be a method of showing what the villain's magical power is but with a healer in our party of friends, surely he could be saved.
My son (also 10) says it would be too sad to kill James. I'm still undecided. Hm. I think I need more coffee.